15 Things Only Sports Fans from the Midwest Can Appreciate

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2013

15 Things Only Sports Fans from the Midwest Can Appreciate

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    As someone who grew up in the Midwest, I know a thing or two about why that region has such a solid sports scene.

    Though it has seen its fair share of bad luck—Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit anyone?—there have been some memorable things that we can be proud of.

    After digging deep into finding what these actually are—and no, it's definitely not this video from our high school alma mater—we're giving you the ones that Midwesterners should hold their heads high on and appreciate.

Mount Union Football

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    Though the small school located in Alliance, Ohio may "only" participate in Division III, there are plenty of people around the region who are well aware of the Purple Raiders' dominance on the gridiron.

    With 11 claimed national titles—including this past season—Mount Union football is something that all undersized high school football players strive for.

    Who knows, maybe they become the next Pierre Garcon?

Beer

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    With seven of the top-25 drunkest cities from last year, one thing that every Midwesterner knows is how to throw back some serious brews.

    Whether it's to help drown the sorrows of a painful loss, to celebrate a big win, just to stay warm through cold games or because cities like St. Louis and Milwaukee are home to two of the biggest breweries on the planet, beer tastes a little bit better when drunk in the Midwest.

    And we all know sports and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Mustaches

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    We know there are other parts of the country where mustaches find their way onto the upper lips of many men; it's just that in the Midwest, it's almost an essential accessory to have.

    While places like L.A., New York and Austin boast trendy, hipster staches, the beer-guzzling, no-crap-taking guys who live in the major cities in the Midwest sport them as a statement, not because they're trying to be ironic.

The Great Outdoor Games

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    Does anyone else remember when ESPN actually showed the "Great Outdoor Games?"

    If not, it was a competition that featured events like fly fishing, tree topping and yes, even dog fetching events.

    Airing for six years—before being cancelled in 2006—you can thank Midwesterners for being the ones who kept the event on TV as long as it lasted.

    I'm sure there are still people pissed off about not seeing which flannel-wearing competitor chopped the most wood in the shortest amount of time this year.

NCAA Hockey

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    Thanks in part to the frozen ponds and never-ending winters in the region, ice hockey remains to be one of the most commonly-played sports.

    Though the Northeast boasts quite the interest, Midwestern states like Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin absolutely bury the competition when it comes to success in college hockey, owning 38 total NCAA titles from those four states alone.

Legendary Coaches

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    Wondering who will be the next great coaching legend?

    You'd be smart to stay within the borders of Ohio, because they have some pretty serious history when it comes to producing good ones.

    From World Series winners like Jim Leyland, to NCAA basketball and football titles under the guidance of Bob Knight and Woody Hayes, the Buckeye State must have something in the water in helping form a great coach.

LeBron James

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    Go ahead and win "not two... not three... not four..." NBA titles while in South Beach LeBron, but you'll never be as loved—while being hated at the same time—as much as you are in the state of Ohio.

    It's obvious that Bron Bron is the most popular athlete on the planet, but trust us, every title he ever wins will always make him wonder what it would have felt like had he accomplished it in front of his native townies.

    The same townies who defended him before he found the clutch gene he has now, and the ones who foolishly burned his Cavs jersey for embarrassing them on national TV.

    For as much hate that's perceived towards him, there sure are a lot of folks who would love to see him back in 2014.

Field of Dreams

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    Held in high regard by most fans as being one of the better sports movies ever, Field of Dreams hits home with so many Midwesterners because it's how many learned the game, so it's relatable to them.

    Filmed in a cornfield in Iowa, the simplicity of the story and the focus on a father-son relationship make the movie something that "farm kids" can actually brag about.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

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    Sure, the NFL continues to be the country's most popular sport, but just because we all love playing fantasy football and watching behemoths hit the hell out of each other, doesn't mean everyone can appreciate the sport's Hall of Fame.

    Everyone knows that when sports fans refer to "Canton," they're speaking about the Hall, but for as many people who put a visit to Cooperstown on their bucket list, it's strange not as many flock to Canton in order to check out the busts—of the enshrined players of course.

    For Midwesterners though, it's just a short drive.

Snowy Baseball Games

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    Even when the schedule says that it's April, that doesn't mean a thing to Mother Nature, who spreads her ugly, cold weather all over the Midwestern states when the MLB season opens up.

    For teams, that usually means frustrating delays and a lot of empty seats.

    For the fans who actually show up, it means a lot of layers, trips to the bathroom to run their hands under the dryer to warm them up and, most importantly, a lot of sips on a sneaked-in flask.

James Naismith

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    Though James Naismith was born and raised in Canada—bet you didn't know that—the inventor of basketball made a name for himself while at the University of Kansas.

    Founding the Jayhawks basketball program (naturally) and coaching the squad for seven seasons, Naismith actually had a losing record over his career on the sidelines, but anyone from Kansas talks about the guy as if he's a god—which, for inventing hoops, he probably is.

    Just think, without him, there would never be "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk."

The Indy 500

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    For all of you out there who don't follow IndyCar, here's why the Indianapolis 500 is known as the greatest spectacle in racing.

    First off, it has the largest seating capacity of any major sporting stadium in the world, holding as many as 400,000 with infield seating.

    Second, it prides itself on the 500 Festival parade, which may not be the Rose Bowl parade but is pretty damn fun just as well.

    And lastly, the winner drinks a cold glass of milk to celebrate.

    Come on, who the hell doesn't like some fresh milk after a 500-mile drive?

Heartbreak

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    One thing that every Midwest sports fan learns to cope with is heartbreak.

    There's Chicago—with the curse of the Billy Goat in Wrigley.

    There's Detroit—which remains to be the city of Detroit, even if its sports teams have some success.

    Then there's Cleveland—which, as someone who grew up there can tell you, makes you learn at a young age that the only reason you'll cry is because of your sports teams.

    What makes the Midwest so great is that fans don't have the boujiness or self-entitlement of the bigger cities, but still keep the same high expectations—only to be let down most of the time.

Notre Dame

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    Go ahead and admit it: You despise the University of Notre Dame.

    It's OK. Even if you're a devout Catholic, we're guessing you're willing to sacrifice your own religion in order to see the Golden Domers lose big.

    Unfortunately, though, Midwesterners just can't let go, holding onto things like Touchdown Jesus, "Playing Like a Champion Today" and, of course, why the name Rudy is even recognizable.

The Big Ten

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    As someone who went to Kentucky but grew up in Ohio, I've seen the best of both worlds.

    Ask Big Ten supporters for their thoughts on any other conference in the country—especially the SEC—and you'll most likely get nothing but a bunch of passionate people talking about why the conference's brand of athletics is best.

    Is it true?

    Probably not.

    But Midwesterners aren't so quick to concede anytime soon.